Friday, August 11, 2017

Book Review: New World: Rising by Jennifer Wilson

The June Owlcrate box came with not one book, but two: The Sandcastle Empire by Kayla Olson and New World: Rising by Jennifer Wilson. Both are YA dystopian stories that happen to have green and white covers, which makes for a great color scheme. The problem with reading multiple YA dystopians in a row is that when one is fantastic and the other isn't, it's hard not to compare them. Such is the case with The Sandcastle Empire and New World: Rising. The Sandcastle Empire is gripping and powerful. Meanwhile, New World: Rising has a few interesting points to it, but unfortunately I felt a lot of it has already been done previously.


Synopsis

Since she was eleven, Phoenix has been on her own, trying to survive in the violence-filled city of Tartarus. The city is made up of different tribes, each with their own agendas and thirst for blood. But when Phoenix saves a little girl from one of the tribes, she's suddenly thrust into a new place, a new world, and she doesn't know who to trust or if she can survive. 

New World: Rising includes a lot of elements that came be found in other dystopian novels. The tribes of Tartarus reminded me of the factions in Divergent. Phoenix trying to survive on her own reminded me of Day in Legend. The Sanctuary and the Walls reminded me of Attack on Titan and The Hunger Games. While there isn't anything wrong with a book being similar to other stories, it's hard for me personally to enjoy a story if it feels too similar to everything else.

In addition, I didn't like Phoenix. Since she's the narrator of the story, it was hard to enjoy because she told us everything--she was good at this, she could memorize that, etc.--but I didn't see it. I wanted to know how she learned to survive at age eleven to become this super awesome assassin-scavenger-spy person. It would have been nice for more backstory and more depth to Phoenix.

The same goes for the world-building. It had interesting twists. The utopia is really a dystopia, different tribes of Tartarus were detailed and unique, and there are other forces at work than just the perfect city and the tribes. But I wanted more. I often was confused about the different tribes and didn't feel like I truly grasped which was which. I also wanted to know more about how this world came to be. Why did the tribes form? Why doesn't The Sanctuary let people in or out? I just wanted more. Perhaps this more is explored in the other books in the series, though.

Third, the romance was cliche and insta-love, so I was kind of "meh" about it. It happened quickly and would disappear for a while, then come back full force. I felt there should be more important things going on then finding someone to kiss. That being said, I was also intrigued that the guy noticed Phoenix because she was stealing books from an old library. I mean, I guess if you're going to fall in love in a dystopian world you should definitely pick someone who can read, right?

Despite shortcomings, there are things about New World: Rising I did like. The cover is pretty cool. I like the colors and the artwork. I like that there is a focus on a younger girl, Mouse, and that Phoenix chooses her actions in order to protect and care for her. That was a nice change than other dystopians where the main character seems to only care about themselves or their immediate love interest. Though, I wish there had been a bigger reason why Phoenix saves her in the first place. Continually, Phoenix claims she doesn't know why she did it, and I find it hard to believe that someone who has been trying to survive on her own for six years wouldn't have a reason for helping someone else. Even something simple like Mouse reminded her of herself when she was left to fend for herself or that she wouldn't be able to live with herself for letting a child die at the hands of murderers.

 I also liked that Mouse was mute and the other characters learned sign language in order to communicate with her. That was a nice representation that isn't often portrayed in dystopian books. The book was also fast paced and easy to read. There was a lot of action and exciting scenes. Phoenix also learns truths about life and humanity and that no one, even those we love, is perfect, which did make for an interesting twist.

New World: Rising is a simple and short dystopian novel. It's not a bad book, and it was entertaining. I might look into the other books in the series since it was a fast read. If you're a fan of dystopians and want something else to add to your pile, pick this one up.


~I received New World: Rising by Jennifer Wilson in the June Owlcrate subscription box and chose to review it of my own free will. All opinions are my own.~

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